Weekend Wrap-Up

Oscar Doesn’t Bring Out the Best at Box Office

By John Hamann

February 24, 2013

How did that bat get in here?

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It’s the weekend we celebrate movies, and at theaters we get Snitch, Dark Skies, and a three-weekend old comedy leading the pack. Others will blame Oscar night, but don’t let them. It wasn’t always this way – on Oscar weekend in 2010, Alice in Wonderland earned $116 million, which amounted to about $30 million more than the top 12 did this weekend.

Yes, our openers are soft, most of our holdovers are weak, and there is only one Best Picture nominee in the top ten. Debuting films this weekend include the actioner Snitch with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dark Skies, the creeper from the Weinstein Company, which has three films in the top ten this weekend, all of them financial winners. So, again this weekend we have action and horror, which is the same theme we’ve had all year so far. January 4th we had Texas Chainsaw 3D; January 11th Gangster Squad; January 18th Mama, and The Last Stand; January 25th Parker and the R-rated Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters; February 1st was Warm Bodies and Bullet to the Head; February 8th we had our first comedy hit in Identity Thief; and then we were back to action and horror with A Good Day to Die Hard and Beautiful Creatures. It’s been a tough start to 2013 as Hollywood does not seem to understand what the moviegoing public is looking for.


With that in mind, it is absolutely no surprise to me that Identity Thief returns to the top of the chart this weekend. The Melissa McCarthy flick (sorry Jason Bateman, you are not the draw here) debuted at number one over February 8th - 10th frame with $34.6 million, then lit it up between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day by earning $32.8 million. This weekend, things are understandably softer for the comedy, as it earns a gross of $14.1 million and drops 40% from last weekend’s holiday-inflated three-day gross of $23.7 million. That means Identity Thief has earned a remarkable $93.7 million in only 17 days, which is a good score for a February release. It will cross the $100 million mark next weekend (or sooner, if McCarthy has a chance to shine tonight). Its chances of chasing down the $169.1 million total of Bridesmaids are slim, but if gets to $120 million, it joins Universal’s top 50 films ever.

There is a new film in second, and it’s Snitch with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doing his thing. Snitch, a better-than-expected action tale, earned a slim $13 million from only 2,511 venues, giving it the weekend’s best venue average in the top 12, at $5,177 (not much, I know, but we have to look at the little things this weekend). With The Rock, the story is usually the same: if his film is a sequel, has a strong co-star or built in audience, he over-performs. If The Rock is on his own, an opening in the low to mid-teens is the easy bet. He had good results in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Fast Five, and Get Smart, but Snitch is more akin to Gridiron Gang, Faster, and Walking Tall. He picks okay scripts (this one was 55% fresh at RottenTomatoes - critics liked his performance, but didn’t like the film), and is smart about picking smart supporting roles (The Other Guys). The Rock’s next outing should be super-sized as he appears in GI Joe: Retaliation. He will also see further sequel work in Fast & Furious 6 later this year.

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